Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1847-1915


signed Kiyochika with artist's seal Kiyochika, limited edition seal on verso, Shuzuri ichi-hyaku mai kagiri no uchi, dai ni ban (printed in a limited edition of 100, number 2), followed by small red square seal, Watanabe, published ca. 1919

otanzaku tate-e 22 1/4 by 8 1/8 in., 56.4 by 20.5 cm

This print was likely based on a painting, perhaps commissioned specifically for the publisher Watanabe Shozaburo (1885-1962). Although it was published posthumously, the large size of the print itself and the limited edition number on verso is typical of Watanabe's early experimentations with artists, subjects, sizes and formats in his quest to establish a new genre of Japanese woodblock printmaking in the 1910s and early 1920s.

One of Watanabe's early recruits, Kawase Hasui (1883-1957), would eventually become the leading landscape artist of the shin-hanga movement, if not one of the most important Japanese print artists of the 20th century. Although the work of Hasui was often compared to the great 19th century landscape artist, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Hasui tried to distance himself from that association and always asserted that it was Kiyochika who had the greatest influence on his work. While Kiyochika was clearly an important transitional artist of the Meiji period, it is not alway easy to see a direct correlation between his work and that of Hasui.

This scarce print sheds new light on the link between the two artists. Hasui produced a print of the same title, although clearly of a different view, approximately seven years after Watanabe published this work by Kiyochika. It seems plausible that Hasui's dramatic diagonal bands of snow in his version of Ochanomizu are a quiet reference to the moody bands of rain on this composition, which are clearly reminiscent of any number of Hiroshige landscape prints, White Rain at Shono (from the Fifty Three Stations of the Tokaido) is an obvious comparison to consider.


limited edition and Watanabe seal


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site last updated
January 21, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
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